Emma had heard enough. She knew it probably wasn't any of her business. She knew she should just stay in her room and ignore what was happening in the next room but the sound of Jenny's sobs propelled her forward. She marched into her neighbour's room the look of determination on her face challenging anyone who might try and stop her. The three faces that stared at her sudden entrance all bore signs of the recent conflict but it was only Jenny MacMillan that Emma noticed. She went over and put her arms around the younger woman. Only then did she notice the tray of food on the floor. The tea cup had broken the liquid was staining the rug beside the bed where Ethel James sat.
"I apologize for intruding," Emma said to the director, " but I heard Jenny crying and that isn't acceptable." "I appreciate your concern, Mrs. McCabe and, of course you are right. Staff should never be the subject of abuse by residents or anyone else but I am looking after the situation." Despite her words, Stephanie Morrison looked anything but in control. Her face was flushed and her usually immaculate hair looked as though it had been raked by frustrated hands.
"Nevertheless, I am going to stay with Jenny until things get sorted out. If necessary, I will hire a lawyer for her."
"A lawyer! She is going to need a lawyer." Ethel's voice was shrill with indignation. "I know this girl stole my ring. I caught her snooping in her yesterday."
"Jenny, were you in Mrs. James room yesterday," the director asked?
"No, well yes, but not to steal. I came to see if Mrs. James wanted to come down for exercise class. I knocked at her door but I guess she didn't hear me because when I pushed it open, she screamed and started yelling at me."
"Of course, I yelled. You frightened me. You are always creeping around like a mouse scaring people."
"Ethel, let Jenny tell her story, please. You have made a serious accusation and she has a right to defend herself. Also, calling a person names isn't likely to help the situation either." Emma's voice was quiet but there was no mistaking the firmness. "Go on Jenny."
"Well, when Mrs. James jumped, I saw something roll onto the floor. I bent down to get it for her but she yelled at me again and told me to get out. So I did. I never took anything. I swear."
"Did you see what it was, Jenny?" The director was reminding everyone that she was the person in charge.
"Yes. It was a ring. I only got a quick look but I think there was a red stone, a big one and some smaller white ones. They might have been diamonds, I guess. Like I said, I didn't see it very well."
"Does that sound like your ring, Mrs. James?"
"Of course it does. I told you she stole it. She came back after I went out and took it."